Back to Squawk list
  • 81

Is It Still Okay to Recline Your Seat?

Etiquette expert says now considered "rude" to recline any seat outside of First or Business class. But is it? The recline button is still intact in passenger jets...are we not supposed to use it? ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Rick D 53
The art of reclining. I was on a flight from YYC to YXX some years ago and the teenage girl in the seat in front of me leaned back and asked if it would be ok if she reclined the seat. I will always remember that small act of courtesy. Of course, I said go ahead.
Pete Ostrowski 14
Canada eh…
I’m 6’6”, i’d always ask and respect response
I learned that comfort costs. I go first class now where not so much a problem
But I still ask…
Dale Ballok 4
It’s too bad everyone doesn’t use that same courtesy.
Andrew Schmidt 5
So Rick, what would be her next step if you said "No"? I am serious; I am booked for a very long flight, and I'd like to have courtesy, but what happens if the person says 'no' after I ask?
Rick D 4
I asked her that, as we disembarked in Abbotsford. She said she wouldn't have. Based on her question and then her answer to my question, I know she didn't represent the typical attitude of the average passenger.
Tim Hunter 0
Do it anyway! I just went to Africa and back --do you know how many flights that is? It works to let the person behind know what to expect. Hey, we're all in this together.
matt jensen 4
15 hrs n-s ATL-JNB and someone tells me I can't recline?
Bill Brehm 0
Don't ask, just tell that you will recline now. Still polite but you can't be turned down.
Gary Bain 3
Common courtesty is dead Rick. It's "all about me" these days. Happens everywhere unfortunately.
SkyAware123 8
BS. People reclined without asking long before. It's become a problem since seat space has shrunk. Blame the airlines and just get a bigger seat.
Gary Bain 0
Common courtesy is dead Rick. It's "all about me" these days. Happens everywhere unfortunately.
Dennis Warren 41
Economy class seats are much to cramped. The FAA needs to set a standard of at least 34 inches.
Stuart Barkley 2
Yes, across!

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

David Rice -6
Most travelers don't pay for their own tickets. Their clients/employers pay for them. Wake up.
Dee Bee 7
David, business travel is only about 12% of airline passengers. Maybe you are the one who needs to wake up.
Scott Andersen 1
I woke up, only to find that most of us are paying for our own ticket

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

Tony Chesser 14
Due to the ever-shrinking seat pitch, the vast majority of us are going to use the latter, unless we're traveling across water.

The "20%" business above is a strawman argument. If you cut the 34" seat pitch by 20%, you'd be knocking 6.8" off of it, taking it down to 27.2". No one will, willingly, pay for so little space because most people can't fit into it. Going from 34" to 31" is not quite 10%.

The last flight I took was over 2 hours on Allegiant, back in 2019. The seat did not recline. It was a piece of molded plastic with a couple slightly-softer plastic pieces attached; no real cushions to speak of. I'm not excessively tall (5' 10") and my knees were hard against the seat in front of me. My beloved is similar height. We were having difficulty walking, for most of a day, after each end of that round-trip flight.

It was a sufficiently-bad experience that we've not flown since.

If we want to travel, we rent a minivan (sufficiently heavy, with a long-enough wheelbase, that we don't get beaten to death by the lousy roads) and we drive. It takes longer but my beloved and I can trade off on driving duties and both of us can walk afterwards. If there's an accident, the rental company provides another vehicle and we keep going. If it was our vehicle, we'd have to stop and wait until it was fixed, likely eating up our vacation time, and we might lose a vehicle on which we depend to get to work. Renting means we pay more, relative to driving our own vehicle, but someone else eats the risk. Since we'd need a rental car after flying to our destination, the price difference (renting and driving vs flying and renting) is small.

Go ahead airlines, keep squeezing the seats. Keep cancelling flights when you can't fill the planes. People are price sensitive, yes, but spending a day getting to the point that you can walk again also has a price. All it takes is one such experience, as above, and you've permanently lost another customer.
David Rice 4
So you're saying that if I work "hard" my company will change their travel policy? You are an "ID-ten-T" error.
Kathleen Bangs 28
It doesn't bother me if the person in front reclines their seat - I feel like if they bought the ticket they're entitled to the space. (Nice, however, if they do it slowly so my laptop computer on the tray table doesn't impale my midsection. But how do passengers 6 feet tall and over feel about this? Is it an assault on their knees?
latteju 16
I'm 6'4" (193cm). It is not a problem if the person in front of me reclines its seat. I will also recline mine and then we end up with exactly the same amount of personal space as before the reclines. Strangely enough, this "etiquette expert" hasn't given this thought any consideration.

Of course I don't recline during meal service. But after that, I will recline again, and the person in fromt of me is very welcome to do the same.
Roger Cain 5
I'm also 6'4" and in general, when I fly economy, my knees do touch the seat in front of me, and reclining doesn't help. I have asked people not to recline, and in general, they've been nice about it. These are usually within the U.S. and of less than four hour flights.
Huck Finn 1
Want leg too then buy leg room. Don’t bother people in front and try to make them feel guilty.
Dale Ballok 4
Exactly! Talk about discrimination! ALL passengers need to travel in relative comfort.
godutch 6
It's not going to happen. I'm 6'4" and my knees would be in the isle and seat mates space. I've never had an issue telling the person in front my situation - even on long US - Europe - US flights.
Huck Finn 2
You sound like a bully to me, tall guy with attitude. Just saying.
Gary Bain 1
Laptop AND cup of coffee!
Is it still okay for the airlines to keep reducing the seat pitch?

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]

boughbw 10
No, passengers have the right to assume that buying a ticket will give them a seat of at least adequate comfort-that is, it should not actively cause them pain. I'm a medium-sized guy at 5'9". I can't imagine being taller than this on some of these flights. On flights to/from Brazil (9 hours) last year on a 787-8, my economy class seat was supposedly 31" pitch. But it felt way tighter than that. The seat "recline" actually advances the seat forward and angles your feet under the seat in front of you. A brilliant idea, if you don't have carry-on items stored there.
Seating that can accommodate an individual of 6'2" tall without their knees touching the seat in front of them would make sure than 99% of customers have enough leg room. My guess is that this would also eliminate the whole reclining discussion because the seats would not recline right into anyone's face. And we know the airlines can monetize this because they offer coach class seats with additional room provided for a fee -- IF you can snag one.
In any case, because there is no real way for a customer to know what is being purchased at the time of sale for an airline ticket and because said ticket is unrefundable when passengers board, the airline should absolutely be required to provide seats ensuring no physical distress for virtually all customers at the time of booking. The only way to do this is to require minimum pitch on all airlines.
Roger Cain 8
At 6'4", flying is miserable in the economy seating and buying that four inches of legroom in Business can make a flight cost damn near twice the price of you original ticket especially since I pay to ship my bag/s so I have space for my feet.
Dale Ballok 4
Very true, but people need to try to be courteous. Some just slam their seat back, then complain about it being done to them with the seat in front of them.
boughbw 3
I agree. Boorish behavior has become the norm on planes.
Philippe Leroy 4
Boorish behavior has become the norm in everything.
Dale Ballok 5
But that doesn’t make it”ok”!
Larry Skerker 8
The angle of the seats is very uncomfortable for people like me with bad backs. Even the slightest break from the vertical angle helps. I agree that the pitch can be ridiculously close. This is a very similar conversation to overweight people being crammed into narrow seats.
David Thompson 0
First, there seem to be two different kinds of 'bad backs'. In my case, reclining a few degrees is actually quite painful - I need to go lie-flat, or nothing. I keep the driver's seat in my car angled about as far forward as it goes. Which means that if someone in front of me reclines into me, I can't just compensate by reclining myself. Not that I would anyway, if there were someone behind me, since I consider it very rude.

And no, discussions of seat pitch and seat width aren't really comparable. Because with only a very few exceptions, obesity can be avoided through responsible decisions of diet and activity. My genetic background makes it highly likely that I would be seriously overweight at my age. But I am not, because of the choices I make and the time I invest in preventing it, every single day. Height, on the other hand, is an inherent characteristic.
ExPatHere 7
Never recline during meal service (if there is one). I also no recline during short domestic flights.
WavemanT 5
Just because you can do something doesn't mean it's polite or considerate to do so.

I'm 6'2", and if the passenger in front of me reclines all the way, my knees are jammed painfully into the seat back. I think the best action before reclining is to ask the person behind you, but that's rare.
EMK69 13
Just common courtesy, which seems to be lacking sometimes in this world.
Edgar Reyes 5
When you cramp too many people in an enclosed space, courtesy stops and your claim for your space starts along with the resources available. Bad human nature, but the industry does not care as long as the profit keeps coming and no "hiccups" about it.
M.D. Hudon 9
"It's exactly the same as changing a diaper in the seat." Good Lord, what an awful comparison.

Yes, seats are tight; yes, courtesy is nice; but no, this "rule" is not a condition of carriage.

I will recline my seat, but I rarely try to push it all the way back...usually, one or two positions is sufficient not to feel like I'm leaning forward. To me, that's a fair compromise between actual comfort and another's discomfort. And unless someone is doing something heinous to affect my flight, I don't much concern myself with what's going on ahead or behind...that's their seat bubble, not mine.
Russ Nelson 14
Etiquette "expert" has obviously never flown on an airplane. Everybody reclines, it's okay to recline. Sheesh.
Sean Collins 8
Never recline during meal service, that is just bad manners and ignorance and I've experienced many a cabin crew member ask the person to bring their seat forward during such service.
msetera 7
Seats recline. Get over it!
Raymond Hoff 7
Since airlines have respaced the seats to the "sardine can configuration" anyone who is over 5'9" understands how painful it is to have a seat reclined onto your knees and prying you up out of your seat. I ended pounding the guy in front of me as a reflex reaction because I was in pain after being levered up off my seat.

A 9 hour flight is like being put in a "tiger cage" in Vietnam for larger people. And I know no one should be watching a movie from a screen that is 4" in front of their lap.

The solution to this is for FAA and airlines to recognize that this is a health and safety issue. Clearly, you are not going to be able to evacuate when a seat is jammed back against you. Take out two rows and fix the spacing back to 34". I am suspicious that many airlines are below 31" now.
Juan Jimenez -4
you have only yourself to blame. These days you can check what aircraft an airline will fly on your route and choose a flight that caters to your physical handicaps. Or you can pay more and choose a seat that suits you. That is not someone else's problem -- it is YOURS. Or do like Southwest does, if you're horizontally challenged you have to buy two seats, problem is they are not together.
Martin Dennett 1
I'd love you to take a Ryanair flight. See how much you recline there.
Donna Menzies 7
I think we should expect passengers to recline their seats. Many people have back issues or are tall and need the option. However, a redesign of economy is needed. We shouldn’t expect to be cramped up just because we’re not wealthy.
Highflyer1950 23
If the seat reclines, recline it. Two things, if it’s apparent that a meal is being served or eaten then bring it back up and if you decide to recline…….do it S l o w l y.
Michael Nilsson 3
Start a new trend…at fl10, everyone reclines their chair. It’s not like these economy seats are lazy boys. Problem fixed
Gayle Woods 3
Won't be too much longer you will have to bring your own seat and it can be no larger than your current carry-on. Which is to be phased out!
Katalin Woelfel 3
So was this "expert" opinion required for removing the recline feature from seats?
Pamela Kennedy 3
My husband usually sits by the window and I sit in the middle seat . Many times a man is sitting next to me and does the man spread . Also I'd like to know who gets the arm rest .
boughbw 12
The middle seat gets both arm rests. This is a given.
A passenger on an international flight got out of his seat to complain to the flight attendant that the person in the middle was using "his" arm rest. Flight attendant said: Person in aisle seat gets aisle arm rest, person in window seat get window arm rest, and person in middle gets both arm rests. I'd never heard of this before - but apparently others have!
Dale Ballok -1
“Gets”? Where is that written? Same as reclining. I agree with your statement, but it’s more like “is entitled to”. If there’s a wide body sitting next to you, you’ll be hard pressed to use the arm rest. A few times I experienced that, I not only couldn’t use that arm test, but the dude fell asleep with his arm on it AND my tv controls. The weight of his arm kept inadvertently changing my channels!🤦‍♂️🤷‍♂️😩👎
Juan Jimenez -1
LOL! Ya, right. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣
Paul Bedel 9
What utter rubbish. It's the airline's fault that there is not enough space to recline your seat. If they would stop money grabbing, the passengers would have a more comfortable flight.
DB Vesty 9
I usually don't recline my seat unless the person behind me has done so also, 'cause I know what it's like to be squashed that way. If the person ahead reclines, I might do a half-recline. But that's me, some will say overly considerate, but ya know "we're all in this pea pod together."
Robert Preston 9
so out of nowhere, a gaggle of etiquette experts (who? we ask, no names, just trust us, they are experts, dammit), after pondering for the last 50 years, has now announced its rude to recline. airlines have seats that recline. use them. or those concerned with etiquette dont recline. you have a choice. and no, I dont care what you think.
Buell Hollister 1
Generally, if you hear the word "expert", head for the hills; if that is followed with "savvy" accelerate rapidly.
Joe Serdynski 6
doesn't bothered me, please feel free to recline your seat ! ! !
aurodoc 6
I generally do not recline my seat. To go back 2 inches isn't making me more comfortable although maybe some benefit on a trans Atlantic flight. Problem solved for some carriers by having seats that don't recline.
Bayouflier 8
Etiquette expert????? When a so-called expert can make a proclamation of this level of stupidity, and the audience finds it worthy of discussion, we're in worse shape than I thought.
Edgar Reyes 1
Just one question. Do you have manners for others in your life?
Eduardo Carvajal 2
Definitely okay, just make sure not to over recline if seats allow, or recline when food is served obviously
We’re all given the same amount of space. Reclining is saying ‘I want some of yours too’.
The Gent who said ‘just recline your seat too’ is now dooming the person behind me their space since two of us are now - all about us and our comfort.
I recline, when I’ve checked that nobody is sitting behind me.
Thomas Blackburn 2
The short small people can do fine with the smaller spacing, but those of us unfortunate enough to be over 6" tall really need at least 34". Unlike being overweight, height is not a choice!
Tony Silverstrå 2
Allways high knees in the beginning gives the monkie in front not to reclaine the seat signal.
Barry Morse 2
It's wonderful how these airlines with $30+ billion in market value feel free to turn the screws down in their customers and let the customers fight with each over scraps of leg room.
K Ris 2
With my disability, the ability to recline just a bit to take the pressure off a 90 degree sitting position is a life-saver.
Jeraboam 2
On a Lufthansa flight from Munich to Toronto, our premium economy seats were in a shell, with the seat sliding down to the recline position while remaining within the same space. Is there much difference in the space occupied by these seats over the space occupied by a standard economy class seat? These seats did not seem to be as big as the normal PE seats and might be an answer for EC seating.
Jan Strömbäck 2
I'm 6'5", they can allways try, but they won't get anywhere! ;)
James Hugh 2
The etiquette expert would say a 1-2 hour flight you don’t recline, anything over that you recline.
Stephen Gordon 2
We don't recline on domestic flights. On international flights, especially the red eye going to Europe, I let the person behind me know that when the lights go out I am reclining to get some sleep. Then when breakfast comes sit back up straight so they can use the table.
murray murray 6
so this isn't about seat reclining this is about the "me me me "generation and the fact that they want to change all the rules to suit them . if they don't like it its bad till they want it then its good . Same generation that did away with business suits ,male chivalry and the fact that if they were not the ones demanding a higher return from their investments companies might actually care more about people than the bottom line
Buell Hollister 1
Double amen!
Stephen Chase 1
godutch 5
I'm 6'4" and my knees actually touch the seat on most coach class aircraft with me sitting straight up. You cannot recline your seat on me. I will, and have held up people in front who have tried this...and explained as such. It would be considered RUDE to continue to recline when knowing this. My knees would be in the isle and into the seat mates space on the other side if you did recline.
bbabis 3
The once every two or three years I fly the airlines, I don't care. I never recline my seat.
Katalin Woelfel 3
So was this "expert" opinion required for removing the recline feature from seats?
Joe Keifer 3
Fine. Pin the seats in their full upright and locked position. Cleared for takeoff!
hgolson 3
To be fair if the person in front of me asks to recline and the person behind refuses my request, where does that leave me? Not that 2 or 3 inches that the stupid seats recline matter much. I say everyone should just recline if they want to.
The 350 lb blob sitting next to you is much more of a problem. The blobs need to be forced to buy two seats.
Juan Jimenez 0
Worse yet is the cupcake who chooses hilarious names to post.
msetera 1
...said the super jumbo blob who should pay for three seats.
Highflyer1950 5
If the seat reclines, recline it. Two things, if it’s apparent that a meal is being served or eaten then bring it bavk up and if you decide to recline…….do it S l o w l y.
David Folkard 3
How does one become an "Etiquette expert"? Do you have to write for trashy publications and appear a minimum number of times on breakfast TV discussing the mundane trivialities of the lives of self entitled people?
John Jurik 3
Dumbest thing I’ve read today.
Juan Jimenez 3
what bullshit. Don't like someone in front of you reclining? Pay for business or first, take a bus, take a train, take a boat, drive or walk. I pay for a seat that reclines to have it recline. I could care less if you can't work on your laptop. I will only unrecline at mealtime. GET OVER IT.
ua1kbrad 3
Could care less?

How much less could you care?

Oh, perhaps you meant you "couldn't care less."
Martin Dennett 2
"Couldn't" care less. If you could care less it means you currently have some level of care. Couldn't care less means you've reached the bottom of caring and can't go any further.

P. Dantic.

If I'm sat behind you on say, a 4-hour flight and you put your seat right back without a care in the world in the world you might find out how a constant knee in the back feels. I'm a brilliant air drummer and can bass and hi-hat feet in great time and also snare and crash cymbals. A colleague knew what song I was listening to a few years back, just by the air drumming actions. He said "That's 'Green Day American Idiot' (highly appropriate) isn't it?". It was.

If you're only going to underline for your meal and I'm still eating when you've finished, any mess that gets made on my clothes will see you with a lawsuit. After all, you live in the "where there's a blame, there's a claim" culture don't you?

Not reclining, or asking if it's OK if you do recline is called "showing respect for your fellow humans". I guess your parents didn't teach you that. They must be so proud of you.
Thomas White 1
Sorry snowflake - no permission or notice required - and if you start drumming on my seat back on purpose we'll probably end up talking to an air marshall.
Tom Taylor 2
Juan, you’re just a rude person. Good luck!
Michael Ambrosio 3
No issue if somebody in front of me reclines, they paid for their seat. If you want more legroom then pay for it.
Unbelievable. I have to sit uncomfortably because the person behind me wishes to work on a laptop? No way. If that person needs laptop space, fine. There are paid seats with more space.
Jeff Doyle 2
If I have a reclining seat, and I always try to get on, I will be using it.
William Bell 2
The arguments about the tray tables are at least partly bogus. Even if the seat is reclined, the tray remains horizontal. The seat may encroach on some of the space above the table.
Mark Martin 2
I deal with pain- at times severe pain - every minute of every day. Sitting straight up before long causes my legs to go numb and making that pain worse. However, I am not going to go into my medical history to explain why I am going to do something that passengers have been doing for over 70 years. For whatever excuse - there is NO valid reason - we have been taken over by a cackle of Karens that are ruining sanity for everyone. Difference with me is I stopped caring what others thought about me a long time ago. Perhaps people should think a minute about going into a hissy fit before bellyaching about an action that has been going on for 70+ years. They dont like recliners, then stay home.
flyenlo1 2
Slowly pull the seat back toward you and then release. Do this as they are drinking, etc. lots of fun.
David Antonini 2
If you expect me to not recline and get some sleep on a 17hr flight, you're out of your mind.

As for daipers? I get that some people are a bit prudish, but as far as I'm concerned, unless it's poop I could care less; I'd almost prefer you change your newborn in the seat, or on a mat in the space in front of the doors, having had the dubious pleasure of doing so in an airline restroom myself.
John Buch 2
it is ABSOLUTELY ok to recline your seat. That is what they are designed for\…….to be comfortable for hours of flying!! It is especially important for peeps with bad backs. When the person in front of you puts their seat back, just recline yours and the distance will now be the same as before. EACH paid ticket can do what they want with their seat. get ove it! JB
Craig MacPherson 2
The person behind should just recline their seat too. The. There is the identical amount of space as when both seats were upright but we’re BOTH comfortable instead of both uncomfortable.
Dale Ballok 1
Aah, the key word is “should”. Some people don’t even know how to!
Steven Neumann 2
I was a flight attendant for 42 years! Lock the seats in coach to disable the reclining feature. There is not enough room to safely recline those seats. I've had to referee too many arguments over it! Stop the insanity!
Randall Prentice 2
I'm 6'3". If the person in front pushes the recline button the seat will probably go forward....
Rosomak 2
I’m free to recline my seat it I want to, you’re free to buy a first class ticket if it bother you THAT much
David Thompson 2
With the reduction of pitch these days, if you are in economy and there is someone behind you, you should not recline. Ever. It really makes it impossible for the person behind you to do anything, makes it very challenging for passengers not on the aisle to exit the row, and just generally creates a sensation of invasion of space and privacy. It can also leave a seat-back screen too close to someone's face for them to be able to focus on it.

I will typically need to work on my laptop for at least a portion of a flight, if not all of it. And if I am stuck in coach, that becomes impossible if someone reclines in front of me - sometimes you can't even open the screen to a viable angle.

Honestly, this is one of the rare cases where all airlines actually should follow the lead of some of the low-cost carriers and eliminate the reclining functionality in economy.
Ian Harrison 1
Just flew on Alaskan a few weeks back in a 737(ng) and their seats didn't recline (I was a few rows forward of over wing exits), but felt the seat had one notch of recline set permanently. Was quite happy with that.
sweeper239 1
Another NYT article you can't read. This is BS to have a link to this !
Jake Busey 1
Try being 6’3” , 220lbs and a bad back and THEN ASK IF ITS COOL not to recline. IM reclining. Sorry lose some lbs if it’s too close. Or better yet- how about they remove 6 rows from every plane and add legroom again. The current seats are 2x closer than in the 1970’s. Ridiculous.
Alexander Luedi 1
Absurd discussion! Make 36-inch pitch and 20-inch width compulsory by law. And if our great airlines do not comply, force them out of business. There are too many of them anyway!
J B 1
Sort of a "tragedy of the commons" as the economists say, the passenger ahead is at the same risk of encroachment and behaves from rational self-interest, not rudeness, either responsively or preemptively. It's "considerate" not to recline before and unless someone does it to you, out of appreciation for their solicitude - but when the first domino goes it takes a saint to stop the action.
Jeffrey Oehrlein 1
I do not mind if someone reclines their seat, however one time a passenger in front of me reclined their seat during meal service. That pushed my tray very close to me making it difficult to eat. I asked the person to un-recline their seat so I could eat.
Edward Bardes 1
I only recently figured out how airline seats recline.
Mark Hayes 1
I suppose. But PLEASE warn the person behind instead of just thrusting it back. So inconsiderate.
Nick Lutwyche 1
Would not be so bad if the seat in front of me was not reclined while food/drink was being served.
Had to eat like that on a recent overnight flight from BWI to LHR on BA.
gcody5990 1
Yea I don’t really care wether it is or not, I’m putting it wherever I’m most comfortable
Craig Yearout 1
Be kind and civil, it works both ways. No harm in being aware and not so entitled. We compromise everyday, so what's wrong with making sure your cabin partners aren't going to be to affected by a rocket launch of the seat back. The flight will feel much longer for the passenger who is douched. It's not as much the right as it isa as the way we go about it. No one wants to feel stupid so why don't we refrain from acting it. Stupid is what stupid does. Women don't understand that from a tall perspective your recline just revealed your assets and other aspects of what you think is private.
Roger Peterson 1
This guy was flying from Christchurch to Aukland, and notes the aircraft had 28" pitch seats. That's tight. Had he chose Air New Zealand he could have had a seat pitch of 30" to 33" on most of their flights. He could also have purchased a seat in the stretched, or comfort economy section with around 35" or 36" pitch. When airlines stop offering seats which recline, I'll stop reclining.
Deb Brown 1
I was on a flight from San Francisco to Atlanta several years ago. I didn't even have my seat reclined and the knees of the tall person in the seat behind me pummeled my kidneys the entire trip. It's madness.
Mike Monk 1
There is no way that I am going to not recline my seat when on an intercontinental flight. This woman, whoever she is, needs to come down the economy some time and see what it is like on a longhaul.
Thomas Raveney 1
I have no problem reclining the seat. I have no problem with the person in front of me reclining their seat. If I was concerned about my leg space, or my leg space being infringed by the seat in front of me, I should be buying first, business, or premium economy seats. On occasion, I'm stuck with the least-leg-room economy seats, and when I'm stuck in those seats, my knees absolutely hit the seat in front of me. But that was my decision, or I had no choice. Neither of those are anyone else's problem, and they're allowed to recline their seat regardless, as am I.
Larry Goldenberg 1
Please be courteous and warn the person behind of your intention to recline, and do so slowly and only as much as necessary-not to the maximum
Anyone who has paid a seat on an Airline has the right to recline their seat if necessary.
As long as they are respectful, considerate and kind .
jhakunti 1
I recline. Especially if cramped into the middle seat it's the only reprieve. Didn't need the person behind me's permission to travel, don't need their permission to travel comfortably sorry but not sorry. If you don't want a reclining seat in front of you I'll assume since you're not on one you can't afford a private flight but at the least you could have bought the first row seat to appease your senses not bully me out of reclining my seat.
Mike Harris 1
I don't care about anyone else. I am making myself comfortable.. I don't care if it's "rude" The chairs are designed to recline. I'm not breaking any rules or laws by using the device how it was designed and intended. I'm on a 4 hour flight and a bad back in a seat that is uncomfortable as hell, I'm looking out for numero uno.
Steve Horn 0
You are such a wonderful woman Mike. With people like you in front of me I choose to give a good kick to the seat every 15 minutes or so in case you are getting too comfortable at my expense.
Peter Boesel 1
I'm 6'2" and 250. When I sit down my knees are already pressed against the seat in front I make sure they stay touching in case the guy in front decides to recline, I resist with an 'ouch, that's my knees!' And they stop. Never had someone ask before trying to recline.
Thomas Grugle 1
It never bothers me when the person in front leans their seat back. I’m only 5’11” though, so I fit. I lean my seat back an inch or two just to be more comfortable, but if the person behind asked that I scooch up I’d be happy to. This seems like a non problem.
David Purtz 1
An "expert" years ago determined for me that the best seat is usually in row 1, so that's where I sit as often as possible. You don't have this issue in row 1. Three weeks ago I had row 1 on an Air France 777-300 from LHR to MIA, no problems with seat comfort.
Roger Curtiss 1
Hell yes it is. I paid for my seat and it has a recline button. It is not my fault that the airlines reduced seat pitch to an uncomfortable figure.
Mark Kortum 1
John Marks 1
Seriously, “etiquette” expert. Ok…
Susie Turner 1
There is not enough room to recline your seat on airplanes anymore,because planes do NOT have the same amount of room they used to. People are packed in very close quarters. If no one is behind you yes I would think its ok, or at least ask the person behind you if they mind. Nothing is worse than getting your drink spilled in your lap because the rude person in front of you cranks their seat back. A little consideration goes a long way.
Russ Nelson 1
Etiquette "expert" has obviously never flown on an airplane.
JW Wilson 0
When the seat back is so close to my face that I cannot take a sip of my drink, I have a problem with it. That happened on a one-hour flight, had it been longer I might have taken a different tact other than merely putting up with it.
Brian Watts 2
... different tack .....
jetjocknj 5
@JW Wilson. You say you "cannot take a sip of your drink." No seat reclines that far. That you exaggerate essentially destroys your argument.
sparkie624 -1
I certainly Recline... What is the Reason for it anyway...
Jake Busey 1
With the seats upright, all passengers in a row can quickly evacuate the plane. Hence “for take off and landing” as these are the most critical moments in a flight
Robert Husbands 0
Of course its not rude to recline your own seat that you paid for.
Tim Hunter 0
Who made your "Etiquette expert" an authority?? What gives them the right to pontificate? OBVIOUSLY, the writer has never ridden on a 8-10 hour transatlantic flight. Excuse me? They need to be ejected from this flight and banned for the next two years!!
James Cox 0
I think half the flights I am on some of the seats are reclined for the entire duration of the flight, flight attendants don't even bother to say anything about it during takeoff or landing either.
Daniel Calnan 0
There are also cigarette ashtrays on some aircraft, or were not too long ago. Doesn't mean it is OK to use them.
Rita Nasce 0
It is uncomfortable when the seat in front of you is reclined, but honestly it's also uncomfortable to have to sit upright for the duration of a flight. I do ask before reclining my seat but it is a rhetorical question on my part as find it impossible to sit upright in the pose the seat-shape dictates. It is one of the reasons i keep air travel to a minimum. For me it is always a loathesome experience - all of it! Used to love flying.
Thus my reply is "yes it is still okay to recline your seat unless/until airlines start taking passenger comfort into consideration".
David Schneider 0
The airlines squeeze you i like olives in a jar and then the lounger in from of you has his greasy head in your face.
I'm absolutely fine if the person in front reclines his seat, after all he has paid for it. Also, in these days of cramped seats, reclining is the least comfort one can get in economy class. The least expectation is someone to inform the passengers behind before reclining it. Of course, this will be discomfort for tall passengers which have to be sorted out by the crew either by requesting the front passengers not to recline or to allocate a different seat for the tall ones. Which cases may be less in numbers, I guess. This shouldn't deprive other normal passengers of the comfort they want to have in medium to long haul flights.
junk4h -1
What a snowflake. No one asks. What world does he live in. This must be clickbait
Kyle Diehl -3
Absolutely. If you recline your seat in economy and someone is sitting behind you you’re a prick.
geckoVN 0
If no one reclined their seats, the airlines could reduce the legroom some more - Win-Win.
aspen avionics 0
First world problems. You get what you pay for.
Huck Finn 0
Seats are equipped to be reclined. Case closed.
David Thompson 1
That is like saying guns are built to be fired 'case closed'. We all have at our disposal the means to make someone else's life miserable. Whether you choose to do so or not is a reflection of your character.
Tom Taylor 0
The best answer I’ve heard for this complaint is to open your air vent aimed directly at their head.
Mark Hayes 0
I suppose. But PLEASE warn the person behind instead of just thrusting it back. So inconsiderate.
Thomas White 0
Screw courtesy.... snowflakes have now invaded aircraft apparently - what are you people smoking? Recline whenever you want to, that's why it's there!! No one is "invading" your space! Good grief! Get over yourselves! Etiquette expert?? There is no etiquette to it. It's a function of the provided equipment. Glad I'm retiring in a few years.... no end in sight for this insanity....
SkyAware123 0
Short trips ? no. Longer flights ? heck yes. Not enough space ? Buy a bigger seat I'd say. I do.
In what universe is Christopher Elliott an etiquette expert?
I always ask first. If I receive any type on negative feedback, I sit up straight like a soldier.
David Thompson -1
In my view it is rather like tipping in a table-service U.S. restaurant. Technically/legally you are not required to tip at all. But certainly others will view you as a jerk if you don't tip, since you are showing you don't care about the well-being of the employees, or are just too self-absorbed to show common courtesy', perhaps with some excuse justifying that action in your mind. Maybe you really are struggling financially. Most people still wouldn't see that as an excuse to break the societal norm of leaving a reasonable tip.

Reclining into someone behind you on a plane in economy class requires, I believe, the same level of arrogant disregard for others. Those doing it can't be denied their 'right' to recline. But they certainly can and should be shunned and shamed...

[This comment has been downvoted. Show anyway.]


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.